There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as Italians don’t say*.
I assume that’s true, though I’ve never tried it.
My kids wouldn’t let me.
But it’s certainly true that there are multiple ways to learn Italian.
Here are three:
1.) Take an Italian course
I was sitting on the couch in the reception of our school yesterday, chatting to a client, a retired American.
He was telling me how pleased he was with the teachers, who ‘always knew exactly what stage he was at’ with his Italian.
I told him that it wasn’t surprising. They have permanent contracts, so do exactly the same things, again and again, week after week, month after month.
It’s not that surprising, then, that they get pretty practiced at it.
And so tend to be able to spot problems before a student is even aware of them, and hopefully take appropriate steps.
But of course, that’s the point of taking a structured course, with a set syllabus and duration.
YOU don’t have to think about it too much.
The school, and by extension the teacher, takes the strain.
That doesn’t mean that there’s no work involved, of course.
But the responsibility is shared with professionals.
And they’ll likely know from experience what will work, and what won’t!
Personally, I don’t have the patience for an Italian course.
Time is the enemy, right?
When I have to learn something, I prefer to figure it out for myself.
In particular, I find reading and listening to the language that I want to learn very helpful indeed.
If I get enough ‘input’ in the language, my brain starts ticking and before long I begin to understand how things fit together.
Simplified stories with audio work well for me.
I also read online newspapers, and occasionally (rarely) do online exercises.
Currently I’m working on my French and Spanish, and sporadically on my Turkish, which I knew well several decades ago but now seem to have lost.
3.) Online lessons
Taking online lessons from an expert Italian teacher would be a good way to prepare for a course in Italy.
Or an excellent way to follow up such an intensive learning experience!
So making sure the benefits are consolidated, rather than being lost as time goes on.
Spend a fortnight in Italy studying at a decent language school.
Then, when you get home, maintain your fluency with regular online lessons.
Once a week would be perfect!
But online lessons would also work as a supplement to a self-study approach, such as mine.
I’m happy learning on my own and don’t have time for a full-time course.
But that said, a little conversation would be very nice!
It would make a change to my routine, and could boost my confidence at speaking and listening.
So in the end, it’s up to you how to go about learning Italian.
Though if you’re unsure, trying out different approaches would a good starting point.
I’d therefore mention two free offers which might interest you:
Free Online Lesson Offer!
OnlineItalianClub.com is running a free trial online lesson offer.
Book a 30-minute Skype lesson with an online teacher – normal price €20, this week absolutely free!
N.B. These are NOT Madrelingua teachers, though it should be a good experience anyway.
And, as it’s free, what’s to lose?
Also, the offer is only open to new onlineitalianclub.com students – if you’re already taking online lessons with them, this offer doesn’t apply to you.
Book by Sunday, when the offer is ending.
(You don’t have to take your lesson before Sunday, just book it.)
Free Italian ‘Easy Reader’ (.pdf ebook + audio download)
And over at EasyReaders.Org there’s another free ebook + audio download available.
Around 600 people downloaded the last one, apparently.
You listen to the original story, while following the text.
Check any unknown words in the glossary.
Then test your understanding with the comprehension exercises that follow each chapter.
(I usually skip that part…)
The normal price is £7.99, but there’s currently one FREE download for each of Italian, Spanish, French and German.
No credit card or payment details are required!
For more information about Italian courses in Bologna, follow these links:
*The nearest translation we could find for ‘many ways to skin a cat’ is ‘tutte le strade portano a Roma’, which to me doesn’t seem like the same thing at all! However, ‘una gatta da pelare’ (a cat to skin) = something difficult to do, perhaps similar to ‘a hot potato’ in English.